Emma's questions sent us back on memory lane. 4 years seem like a century when you run your own business.... so many things have happened since we launched.
Although, we no longer work from home (thank God for the sake of my personal relationship!), I have fond memories of us having to move Mila's cot into our bedroom each morning so we could access the office & stock room we had set up in her bedroom.
Here is the interview, I hope you enjoy it....
Q&A with Bodie and FouSisters, Karine and Elodie, could be twins if there weren’t a 5 year age gap between them. They are now business partners and applying their complementary skills to build a super stylish business that’s not quite the internet café they envisaged running from their parents shed.
When did you start the business?Elodie and I launched www.bodieandfou.com in May 2005, two weeks before I gave birth. We were super naive and thought it would be this amazing 'wow' in cyber space but in fact the first month we got one sale and the in the second month our sales increased by 100% and we got two! Luckily things picked up pretty quickly after that with the business growing around 100% per annum – even last year in the tight conditions, and it also looks like it is on track to do the same this year.
What were you doing before starting the business?
Karine: I was International Manager for Universal Music International and before that Universal Pictures International. Two great companies to work for.
Elodie: I was a Business Affairs Lawyer at Universal Pictures International.
What encouraged you to go into business together?
Karine: We adore each other. If there wasn't 5 years difference between us, we could be twins. We love pretty much the same things when it comes to fashion, interiors and the way we live our family life. We also admire each other for different reasons.
Elodie: It started a bit as a joke in our early years, like a dream.... First we imagined starting an internet cafe in our parents' shed, then each summer we would come up with a new idea. At some point, we wanted to produce massive candles and dreamt of amazing trips to Morocco where we could source them. Then after countless hours of discussions, drinking litres of black tea, the candles became smaller and we started mentioning other type of products and after a couple of months, the idea really took shape.
Also Karine has THE eye for things, she was gifted and still is. I have blind faith in her tastes as she is the only one capable of choosing a gift that I was not expecting and that I would love.
Do you run the business from the same or separate home offices?Karine: From different countries! I take care of the day-to-day running of the business (www.bodieandfou.com and our sister site www.WhereDidYouBuyThat.com) from our warehouse in north London, and Elodie and I work together on the BODIE and FOU collection, finding new designers and see what areas we ought to develop to make the business grow.
We're launching BODIE and FOU in French in September, a mail order catalogue next year and we are daydreaming about a BODIE and FOU organic cafe and a boutique hotel...
Elodie: Yes that 's the beauty of it, we can basically do it from anywhere and as far as I am concerned I did. I moved 5 times since the business started and I'm now in Barcelona.
Are any of your other family members involved?
Karine: Yes our brother Francois joined the company this year as Warehouse Manager.
Elodie: Yes my partner works from time to time on the creative part.
What has been your most effective marketing activity to date?
Karine: PR, a unique collection of beautiful, well-designed products and great customer service.Elodie: Karine is the marketer...but we live & breathe BODIE and FOU. It's our name, our reputation on the line and we genuinely care about our customers and their shopping experience...The new Franco/English www.bodieandfou.com will have a wealth of options that will make online shopping easier for our customers around the world.
What would be your one piece of advice to other sisters or family members thinking of starting a home based business together?
Karine: Make sure you can be honest with each other without consequences. Bodie and I are very honest with each other but we also value our family. BODIE and FOU was a means to an end so we could do something creative together, something we could be proud of but when the business side of things becomes less fun, just remember why you started it in the first place.
Elodie: Start small, think twice, stay focussed on your goal but make sure you balance it properly with family life. Starting a business from home is exhausting and can be a long process. It reminds me of a marathon (although Karine and I only ran a half marathon), the idea is the same. You need to be prepared for it, and when it starts then it gets more tiring because you spent hours on it and it's just the beginning…. You will need all the support you can get. Make sure you give them as much as they give you.